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Friday, November 28, 2014

· Sale this Weekend! ·

I hope you are all having a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!  We had a wonderful day with family yesterday, and I'm looking forward to decorating our house for Christmas this weekend and finally breaking out the Christmas music. :-) 

This past week, Kathryn was visiting for 6 days crammed full of regency-ball-gown-making, Call-the-Midwife-watching, stay-up-way-too-late/early, and blog-photo-taking!  I'm excited to share the pictures we took over the next few weeks. :-)

To help with Christmas shopping, I'm running a sale all weekend long- Friday through Monday!  Just use the code BLACKFRIDAY to save 20% in Mode de Lis! (excluding custom orders)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Masquerade Attire · Details

Our family attended a Masquerade Ball last weekend, and as it is a truth universally acknowledged that Masquerade Balls demand new attire, I subsequently felt justified in succumbing to the expectation. ;-)

We are also planning on attending a Regency ball in December, so I thought I'd make something that could do double duty!  I was really hoping for a new ball gown, as I've worn my white dress innumerably and to a significant number of dances/balls.  However, nothing period-appropriate presented itself in the stash....  So, it was back to the drawing board.  I pulled out all of the suitable fabrics, and the leftover scraps from a previous project were terribly tempting!  My sister had a Titanic dress made from this antique sari 2 years ago (you can see her in one of these pictures), and I've always been severely jealous of it.  The scraps leftover were very minimal and oddly shaped, but included a few fairly long pieces of border.

Enter- odd regency overdresses.  What a lifesaver!  It was a relief to know that whatever I scrapped together from the pieces would probably end up being pretty close to period-accurate! :-P  I've greatly admired this fashion plate for years, and after draping the scraps on myself, it looked like it was ideally suited to the idea!  

La Belle Assemblee, April 1811

I didn't have enough fabric length to make the skirt as long as the fashion plate, nor could I continue the border around the hem.  However, I still was able to achieve asymmetrical, drapey fun-ness! ;-)

Well, please bear with me on these photos. ;-)  They definitely aren't up to "Kathryn Caliber", but they'll do for now.  I've given up trying to find the best place to take pictures in our house, so Cluttered Backgrounds and Clashing Walls will have to be ignored. ;-)  I'll get official pictures taken at a later date, but I wanted to share the details about this dress while it was still new!

I couldn't find any pictures of evidence for the back of these asymmetrical overdresses, so I made the executive decision to have a pleated skirt like most regency gowns.

Oh, and please pardon the fit!  Unsurprisingly, my dressform does NOT work well with garments that were made to be worn with stays! :-P

The bodice is made from a continuous scrappy piece of the "pallu" portion of the sari.  It only required this tiny bit of piecing under the arm- otherwise it was the perfect size!  Apparently, this was meant to be! :-)

Oh, this just really doesn't fit the dressform!!  But here's how I chose to close it- the under-layer of the front is finished off at the waistline and closes on the side with a hook-and-eye.  The top portion then comes over the top and closes with a hook-and-bar.

I applied a piece of border onto the front skirt and gathered the closure edge to keep as much of the trim intact and visible as possible.

Since the neckline was formed by the border, it required a dart on the shoulder to provide shaping.  The fashion plate looked like it had gathering at the shoulder, and that ended up providing a more precise fit as well!  I love it when stuff works out like that. :-)

While working on this, I decided I'm a big fan of asymmetrical garments.  I only had to sew half of the usual darts and only 1 armhole! ;-)  So fast and easy!

I just really love this sari!!  It's hard to get the pictures to accurately reflect the true colors- it is more green than it appears in most of these.  The embroidery is so pretty, and the almost purple-ish bits are copper embroidery.  The level of detail is amazing and I'm so glad I was able to showcase it another project!

The entire gown was draped by my fabulous (and very patient!) mother. :-)  Due to the nature of the design, but especially the fabric limitations!, there wasn't any way of patterning it besides draping.

And of course I took the opportunity to make a new turban. :-)

My turban was made from some more scrap fabric!  Three cheers for stash-busting!!  We purchased this lovely blue/green velvet and made a cape from it, but had quite a few random scraps.  I previously made a purse and regency sleeveless spencer (as yet unphotographed! I'll have to get around to that soon....), but one can't have too many accessories from this fabric! ;-)  I decided to go the route of a fully-fashioned turban, since the backside of the velvet is light green and wouldn't look good if it peeked out during the wrapping process.

I used a cheap straw hat, cut off the brim, and bound the edge.  Then I cut a rectangle long enough to cover the hat and wide enough to allow for some pleating.  Then I randomly stretched and pleated it in place and sewed 3/4" from the edge to keep it all in place.

(Oh, and a note to the wise- pleating the velvet added a lot of bulk to the circumference of the hat, so make sure your hat starts out at least an inch bigger than you want it to finish!  I ended up taking a bit of a detour to stretch out my hat and re-bind the edge to give much-needed room. ;-))

In order to hide all the raw edges of velvet, I attached a lining- just a simple rectangle gathered up at the top.

I had grand ideas of following a fashion plate for ideas on how to drape my turban, but it wasn't coming together nicely, so I just went with something super simple.  I sewed 2 rectangles into tubes- they were about 5-7" longer that the circumference of the hat and about 15" around, I think.  I twisted them around each other and finished off the ends.  I tacked the twists in place around the hat in a few areas, and it was done!

The complete arbitrariness of this project was... stretching.  I don't really like "randomly pleating" things.  And "tacking in just a few areas" drives me a bit batty.  I like to sew everything *very* securely. :-P

The feathers are just basted so they can be easily replaced with a different ornamentation later.  All the info I've come across seems to indicate that peacock feathers were rather taboo in the period.  However, I have a deep and abiding love for them, so since we were attending a masquerade, I made a concession and stretched my ideals of accuracy a bit to have a peacock-themed outfit. ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Family Heirlooms · Antique Twin Baby Dresses

We don't have very many antique garments from our extended family, but my meager collection grew exponentially this year!

When my paternal grandmother's twin sister, Aunt Daisy, died earlier this year, the family cleaned out her home over the course of several months.  We went over several times to sort what to keep and what to donate, and we were able to get several vintage accessories to remember her by. :-)  Near the end, Mom went over one day to pick up her sewing machine and happened to notice a box of donations containing old kitchen towels.  Upon closer examination, she noticed that it also contained baby clothes!  She brought the box back home and it was like Christmas. :-D

I have a fond spot for vintage baby/children's clothing and the family connection made them even more special!  However, the best part of it all was that there were still a few "twin" outfits together!  I don't know how often they wore coordinating clothing, but judging by the pictures that survived, I don't think it was often, if ever.  I think the remaining "un-matching" dresses were just Aunt Daisy's share of the saved baby clothes.  I thought it would be fun to share the matching outfits I have today! :-)

I got several white dresses like these, but these 2 are my only matching set.

Look at all those pin tucks!  They're all machine sewn, but sooooo tiny!  The tag says, "Hand Made" (like many of the other dresses) so I think these were purchased rather than home-made.

The sleeves are so adorable- I just can't get over all the detailing that goes into these antique dresses!  Impossibly tiny!  The center front of the hem is embellished with a little bit of embroidery.

The middle button on the back is missing- ironically both dresses are missing the same one!  Makes me wonder if that one just got more stress than the others?  All the buttonholes are made by hand, as well as the embroidery.

There were also a few slips, including a matching set! :-)

I love how even though they're just slips, they still have a little bit of embroidery and a detailed scalloped edge. :-)  I'm pretty sure all the edging was done by hand, but I'm not positive on that.  The sheer amount of work that goes into all these baby garments is astounding and inspiring!

The slips close with buttons on the shoulder, but amusingly- all of the buttons are different!  I don't know if that's original or replaced. ;-)

There were also these sweet toddler dresses!  So, so cute.  The twins were born in 1927, so these dresses are from the late 20s or early 30s.

I'm pretty sure they're made from silk, but they are in need of some more special repairing than the rest of the clothing.  They are still intact, but there are several seams that have come out and some fraying and tiny holes.  I suspect that these were worn several times, just due to the evident wear.

I love this idea of alternating pin tucks and regular tucks! :-)

The dresses are very simple- a tunic style with a snap closure on the left shoulder and the neck band closing with a bow.  They are embellished with a small embroidery motif around the hem.

I suspect that they are home-made due to the lack of tags, but mainly due to the difference in hemming- one dress has a simple hem, the other is faced in lightweight cotton!

I have several more of Aunt Daisy's baby dresses to share, including one that I was able to identify from her baby pictures!  I also have a couple wedding dresses, so "Family Heirlooms" is destined to become a (semi)regular feature. ;-)

I was originally planning on doing my post this week about my new costume for a Masquerade Ball we're attending this Saturday.  But then I remembered that several of the attendees are also blog-readers, so I won't be able to retain my element of surprise if I divulge the details before the event!  So, sorry.  Now all the rest of you will have to wait a week or two to see it. ;-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

· 1780s Chemise Dress ·

Well, this dress is a blast from the past!  I made it 5 years ago before a trip to England, where I intended to wear it in Greenwich.  Well, the dress was completed and packed but I never got around to wearing it there....  And it has had two whole outings since its completion.  Terribly embarrassing.

But, I had a good reason!  Or at least an effective one.  I couldn't come up with a good hair solution.  I am always so hair challenged- the thought of it paralyzes me like few other things can....  I eventually decided that a wig would make me happiest, since rag curling and then teasing my own hair would wreak more havoc upon it that I really was comfortable with (as well as taking a long time!) :-/

Aaaaand, then I had to work up the courage to actually purchase the wig....  I'm very good at procrastinating apparently!  I eventually did finally make the purchase, in conjunction with the "Accessories Challenge" and a Literary Ball we attended in March.  (speaking of the Accessories Challenge- did you forget that I was doing that?  Because judging by my lack of completed projects- apparently I did, too. :-P)

I ordered a Lioness wig in Chestnut and it ended up being a great color!  Whew.  It's darker than my natural hair color but matches my eyebrows perfectly, so it's probably better than getting my hair color would have been.

I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it once it arrived, but I ended up teasing it as tightly as I could (except for the very bottom portion), and trimming a bit off the ends that stuck out too far.  I'm still not sure I know what to do with it.  It's just so... BIG.  But I was judging by paintings, and I thought the proportion was just about right.  I think it might be getting a little bit of a trim before the next outing, but it's good enough for now. ;-)

And yes, I want to do something different with the back portion but ran out of time before the ball and, well, haven't gotten around to it since... ;-)

But on to the dress!  I desperately wanted a chemise gown, but I wanted the more fitted styles of the later years.  I used J.P. Ryan's basic dress pattern as my base, cutting it off straight around the waist and adding width at the front to gather up.  The sleeves were drafted from Jean Hunnisett's book "Period Costume for Stage and Screen".  The collar is drafted from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion".

The dress is a cotton voile and is worn over a short-sleeved shift, stays, an under petticoat, and my marseilles cloth petticoat.  There are no other skirt supports, but I was happy with the shape the marseilles cloth petticoat gave! :-)

The bodice is lined with cotton.  The front lining is free along the neck and waist edges and closes smoothly and pins shut; the voile has a drawstring at the neck and the waist for closure.  The sleeves and skirt are unlined and the sleeves are edged with narrow self-fabric ruffles.

I kept the accessories pretty simple- just a nosegay, neckerchief, sash, and ribbon choker.

My silk organza cap-thing was inspired by Vigee Le Brun paintings and is just a simple circle, edged and accented with a silk band and bow.

I LOVE this collar, and was so eager to use it on a project!  All the little pointy bits make me so happy! :-)

And nothing is just quite as crispy and shimmery as silk!

· Photos by Kathryn ·

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